Behind brilliant running back Corn Elder, Ensworth roared to its third straight TSSAA Division II-AA state football championship Thursday night.
Elder, a two-time Mr. Football winner, was named the game’s most valuable player after he rushed for 217 yards on 32 carries and scored three of the Tigers’ four touchdowns in 31-14 victory over Memphis University School at Tennessee Tech.
Ensworth (13-0) hasn’t lost since midway through the 2011 season.
"This team practiced harder and were more ready on a week-to-week basis than any I can remember, and they had great team chemistry,'' coach Ricky Bowers said. "I am very proud of them. We beat a very good team.''
As for winning three straight state titles, Bowers said, "That's great but I would prefer to focus on just this one. It was a really special group, and they were well deserving.''
MUS (10-3) held Ensworth on its first possession, then drove right down the field and took a 6-0 lead on Joey Tucker's one-yard dive. Gary Wunderlich's extra point attempt hit the left upright and bounced away. Wunderlich later had a 53-yard field goal attempt bounce off the crossbar.
The Tigers scored on their next three possessions and took control of the game.
After quarterback Andrew Bowers set up a three-yard Elder touchdown run with consecutive completions for 18 and 17 yards, respectively, his 38-yard pass to Kiambu Fentress set up Jake Estes’ 25-yard field goal. Elder then bolted free for a 51-yard score and a 17-6 lead.
A huge play came early in the third quarter when Ensworth faced a third-and-8 from its 22. Bowers tossed a 35-yard completion to huge 6-foot-3, 307-pound tight end Xavier Forrest and Elder scored two plays later on a 40-yard run. In all, the Tigers went 80 yards in five plays for a 24-14 lead.
Ferby capped the scoring with a four-yard run in the final quarter for Ensworth, ranked No. 10 in last week's USA Today Super 25 prep poll.
"That's what made this team so special -- everyone contributed,'' Bowers said. "Xavier made a big catch and run, Ferby scored a touchdown, Kiambu Fentress came in and ran it well. We had a lot of unsung heroes.''
Andrew Bowers completed eight of 11 passes for152 yards. MUS quarterback Jordan Rodgers was 20-for-37 for 151 yards and one touchdown. Donovan Sheffield intercepted Rodgers once.
Ensworth, which beat MUS 35-28 in the season opener, had 419 yards of total offense (267 rushing, 152 passing). MUS had 209 total (58 rushing, 151 passing).